Sunday, 20 April 2014

Cruise time!

Last week was spent sailing between Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Gibraltar. It was beautiful and I definitely have the holiday blues! I wrote a little (ok, probably a lot) about each day, and part of me was tempted to live-blog each entry, but the traditionalist in me got the better of me and my phone remained safely on Flight Mode for the entire holiday so instead I am faced with the mission of writing up the whole week now I’m home. I thought I’d introduce each day slowly as opposed to going in with the whole holiday, so here goes (as written at the time)...

Cruise time! For the first time yesterday, we had a morning fight, so a ‘full day’ in Malaga, where the ship sailed from. By the end of our 13 hour journey, I think we all agreed that we’d be much happier to sail from England, even if it did take 3 days meaning that we had to go away for 2 weeks (shame)!

Mother and father arrived at my little flat early evening, and after many cups of tea, suitcase weighing, unpacking and re-weighing, we drove through Central London (what an experience) to collect Lorna and her ‘ginormous’ suitcase from the train station. Said ‘ginormous’ suitcase had clearly not travelled with the likes of our baggage before... Once home again, we began our night of waiting to head off for our flight. The flight wasn’t until half 6 in the morning, but in true Brockway style we had to be there in plenty of time, and in order to be there in plenty of time, we had to leave mine at half 2 in the morning. Time was killed with animated discussion about what we might get up to, drinking yet more endless cups of tea (or hot water) and eating hot cross buns; I even managed to give the kitchen and bathroom a pretty efficient clean!

A pretty hairy journey (she says, realistically I probably spent most of the car journey zombified in the back – I certainly couldn’t remember it at all well) or at least lots of U-Turns out of London, waiting around at the airport for who knows what, the most uncomfortable flight, inefficiency as far as the eye could see on the Spanish border, hustled onto a coach, queuing, queuing, and more queuing (spelling that three times was rather a struggle) and we were finally on the ship in time for afternoon tea (hence why my earlier ‘full day’ was in inverted commas. We had been hoping for a lunchtime arrival...)!

The initial plan as we expected to have plenty of time had been to venture into the old part of Malaga nearest to the port. However, as we were all beyond exhausted, and presented with amenities such as can be found on a cruise ship, it was kind of (/extremely) hard to tear ourselves away! As soon as we had located our cabins for bag depositing and freshening, we headed straight to the buffet! Cruise food is just. Oh gosh.
Once faces were stuffed (as if there wouldn’t then be food available all day, every day) we took a turn around the ship in an attempt to get our bearings. We oohed and aahed at the many lounges, bars, restaurants, decks and the casino (blasting out the cheesy 90’s hard house, as you do), discovered hidden places that we would later struggle to return to, and inadvertently (we weren’t just trying to get thrown overboard, honestly) came close to passing through several doors with restricted access. Ships are big (and by comparison, Thomson are small), so we retreated back to our cabins to unpack suitcases before we lost every drop of energy we had left.

Lured out again by the prospect of ‘cocktail of the day’, we placed an order and promptly fell asleep on loungers on the sun deck for an hour.

The thought of our first evening meal stimulated a sudden surge of energy, however, and we headed off to beautify and glam up in order for impressive food consumption! My menu looked a little like this:
Starter – cheese ravioli
Soup – Duck consomm├ę
Main – pan-seared tuna (with veg and potatoes of some variety)
Dessert – Chocolate Charlotte (what an experience!)

Unfortunately there was very little time to sit back and revel too much in the pleasures caused by Chocolate Charlotte, as it was time for the passenger safety drill! In previous years, all guests have been lined up along the deck, where the more effeminate members of the entertainment team can always be found ensuring Dad’s life jacket straps are well and truly done up as tightly as they can be. This year, we were all herded into the show lounge, where someone who was probably supposed to know what he was doing made a half-hearted attempt at calling all of three names from his register before giving up. Well I HOPE WE WERE ALL PRESENT AND CORRECT, SIR. I wouldn’t have had a clue what to do in the event of submersion.

For some strange reason (not really, just because we were on holiday I imagine), instead of going to bed as we probably should have done having passed the 36-hours without proper sleep mark, we powered through, and found ourselves listening to a trio aptly named ‘The Rhythm of Three’. ‘They sound like they might be quite jazzy’, I heard myself say. Morbid fascination (or perhaps delirium caused by over-tiredness at this point) found us remaining in the Royal Fireworks show lounge for their entire set, and before we knew it we were participating in a quiz!? Despite none of us being quiz-types, we made an admirable effort and were some of the last to put our answer sheet down!

The quiz finished just in time for us to head out on deck to watch us sail away and join in with ‘sail away party’ celebrations (deep joy). I did dare to dance to Steps – 5, 6, 7, 8, but otherwise the ‘party’ consisted of guests standing around while the entertainment team tried and failed to engage us all in continuous mad dancing to awful covers of cheesy pop songs. After making what we felt was an acceptable length of appearance, we finally sidled off to have a party of our own on the sun deck in the wind and sea spray (nothing quite like it!) before realising how tired we were, so retrieving tea and wending our way down into the bowels of the ship (almost, at least) to BED... 42 hours later.

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